Sunday, August 20, 2017

Pine Ridge Road could see reconstruction to reduce congestion

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Collier County is seeking community input into proposed changes along Pine Ridge Road.

The county is looking to reduce congestion along the corridor which serves as an artery between Collier Boulevard and U.S. 41. According to Project Manager Lorraine Lantz, the proposed changes came from a study by Edmonton based Stantec Engineering which the county commissioned at the cost of $116,000. The county intends to address multiple intersections as well as the Interstate 75 interchange that runs through the middle of the corridor.

Lantz said that that while traditional intersection improvements were considered, the study showed that they would be insufficient to accommodate future growth.

“Those intersections would only be a band-aid,” said Lantz. “They would only temporarily fix the growth problems. Because of that we started looking at the innovative intersections.”

Livingston Road and Pine Ridge is the primary intersection being identified as a trouble spot by the county. Lantz said that more than 55,000 cars a day flow through the intersection as of 2016 and more than 75,000 are projected by 2040. The county is considering a number of solutions including the traditional overpass but the prime contender is a design known as the continuous flow intersection.

The design reduces signal time and increase safety by shifting cars that intend to turn left to a special turn lane that actually sits on the opposite side of opposing traffic. By shifting the traffic to the opposite side at a quick signal before major intersection the design greatly increases the efficiency of traffic flow.

Whippoorwill Lane is the other Pine Ridge intersection that is a high priority for redesign. The design being suggest for that project is call a restricted crossing U-turn, more commonly referred to as a superstreet.

“Basically, you would be restricted if you are on Whippoorwill,” said Lantz. “Your movements would not change if you are coming of Pine Ridge but on Whippoorwill if you are heading northbound you will only be able to turn right and if you were heading southbound you would also only be able to turn right. No across or left turn movements.”

A signaled U-turn is then added to Pine Ridge to let drivers easily head the proper direction without crossing oncoming traffic.

Finally, the county intends to address the I-75 interchange itself with a design called a diverging diamond. The diamond weaves the lanes of traffic across each other at the signaled intersections that usually sit on each side of an interstate interchange. The state’s first diverging diamond interchange was built in Sarasota, at the intersection of I-75 and University Parkway opened in May.

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By moving the traditional east bound traffic to the left and vice versa it allows access to interstate on ramps without having to turn left across opposing traffic. This reduces the wait time at lights significantly and increases safety. The lanes weave back into their traditional sides of the road at the light on the opposite end of the interchange.

The project is in the preliminary planning phase so no construction costs or start dates were available.

The county will be explaining these plans in more depth and asking for community feedback during an open house from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday at the Greater Naples YMCA, 5450 YMCA Road, Naples, Florida 34109.

A copy of the study and the proposed intersection changes can be found here.


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